26 June 2008

Don't Mess with the Goose

We're down to two geese, and both of them are a few years old. We got some eggs from them this spring, but they've stopped laying for the year. For various reasons (especially that we still have several geese in the freezer), we decided not to raise any this year. Older geese are tough as shoe leather, so I've been thinking about butchering them and boiling them for 24 hours to make soup.

One thing I love about geese: they can be tough as shoe leather even when they're still alive. Last night, both of them remained outside the barn when I locked up and secured all the other animals. "Suit yourselves," I muttered, looking at the two of them sitting stubbornly in the chicken/sheep enclosure behind the barn. I went in the house and went to bed.

Not three minutes after my head hit the pillow, I heard one of the geese making a terrific racket. It was definitely a fighting noise, and so loud it traveled all the way across our property. I thought for a moment, and then threw on some clothes, grabbed a high powered flashlight, and ran to the barn.

One goose was still in the enclosure, looking as indignant as a goose can look, and the other one had flown over the fence into the pasture. Whipping the light around a bit more, I found the perp: a fox was slipping through the fence and slinking out into the hay field. Kicking myself for not having taken the shotgun from our bedroom closet on my way down, I ran to my office for the backup 12-gauge I keep there.

By the time I loaded the shotgun and circled the barn, the fox was about halfway across the hay field. He turned and looked at me, his eyes lighting up in the night and making him an easy target --- if only I had a way to keep the huge spotlight on him while handling a shotgun. [Note to self: Next shotgun must be one with a mount for a tactical light.] Necessity being the mother of invention, I wedged the spotlight between my legs and managed to get it trained on the fox --- who was now beginning to trot across the hay field again.

I figured he was about out of range, especially in the questionable lighting conditions, but it was still worth teaching him a lesson. I drew the 12 gauge to my shoulder, pointed in his direction, and squeezed the trigger. The ROAR it made was very satisfying, and I loved the way the blast echoed off the stands of trees and bushes ringing our field. A moment later, I heard something (presumably the fox) crashing through that brush at high speed.

I made my way back to the barn, and discovered a trail of feathers where the goose had made her stand and fought off the attacker. I managed to get both geese in to the barn and the door re-secured, and put the shotgun away. At the very worst, I (and the goose) hopefully gave the fox a scare he won't forget. At best, I hopefully managed to pepper his tail. Either way, I doubt he'll be coming back again any time soon.

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